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Does Brisket Smell Bad? (Explained)

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It can be a painful discovery to realize that the brisket you’ve been storing for a few weeks has spoiled. 

However, before you decide to smoke raw brisket, you must be able to detect and spot if it has gone bad. Some indications are obvious, such as a foul odor or a change in texture. Other indications, though, may be less apparent, especially to inexperienced smokers.

The article that follows describes what a fresh beef brisket should smell and look like, as well as what to check for if your brisket has soured or spoiled.

Is Beef Brisket Supposed to Smell Bad? 

While the scent of raw brisket isn’t necessarily pleasant, it shouldn’t be strong enough to clear the room. 

Many red meats naturally have a slightly sour, almost metallic odor to them when they are fresh, but will not resemble anything close to a rancid smell.

Depending on how “aged” the brisket is, this odor might be weaker or stronger, but still completely normal.

However, no raw meat should ever smell “bad” or rotten. Once the meat begins to smell decaying, it is no longer safe to eat, and no amount of cooking will bring it back to safe standards. 

When it comes to food safety, a fair rule of thumb is “when in doubt, toss it out.”

How to Tell If Raw Beef Brisket Has Spoiled


As previously stated, the most noticeable sign is a rotting or putrid odor emanating from the uncooked meat. When you remove your brisket from its packaging, you’ll definitely be able to tell whether it’s spoiled, especially if it’s been vacuum sealed.


Things can become more complicated at this point because degraded texture does not always indicate that the meat is bad. 

Meat that is not completely fresh or that has been thawed from frozen may become discolored with little grey patches on the surface, yet still safe to cook and eat. 

The same grey splotches will appear on spoiled brisket, but with a greenish/yellow hue mixed in. The texture will be the most evident indicator. If rotten, it will become slimy or sticky in some areas

Bacterial Growth

Even if you just purchased a brisket from the butcher, you should carefully inspect it for mold growth before preparing or storing it. 

Bacterial growth can harbour a variety of potentially harmful foodborne infections, ranging from mild food poisoning to salmonella.

There appears to be a misperception that mold growth can be “cooked off the meat” and safely ingested. While cooking does technically kill bacterial development, their spores remain embedded in the meat. 

How Quickly Does Raw Beef Brisket Spoil?

“Danger Zone” Review

Most meats, whether pork, chicken, or beef, should not be left outside at room temperature for more than 2 hours. After this time, the brisket will begin to fester, creating an environment for bacteria.

You can use “the danger zone” to help you adhere to this. This refers to a precise range of temperatures at which meat can be safely consumed.

This temperature range is between 40 and 140 degrees(F). 

For example:

Raw, uncooked beef brisket should not be allowed to reach a temperature of 40 degrees (F).

• Cooked beef brisket should not be allowed to cool below 140°F (F).

If the temperature of your brisket climbs or falls into this range, the meat is lost and should be discarded.

How Long Is Raw Beef Brisket Good in a Refrigerator?

Beef brisket can be refrigerated for 3 to 5 days, depending on how it is packaged and stored. If you are not keeping the brisket in its original packing, place it in an airtight container to better maximize this time.

Of course, this is dependent on its condition before to being placed in the refrigerator. If the brisket has already been sitting at room temperature for some time, it won’t keep as long refrigerated as it would if it were fresh.

Keep in mind: The meat cannot be refrigerated if it has already exceeded its 2-hour limit at room temperature.

How Long Is Raw Beef Brisket Good Frozen?

Brisket may keep its freshness for up to 6 to 12 months frozen if properly stored and wrapped (ideally in a vacuum sealed bag). It will still be safe to consume after that time, but the quality and freshness will have diminished greatly. 

After thawing, the meat can be stored in the refrigerator for a further 3-5 days. However, if you keep thawed meat for more than 5 days, you cannot refreeze it.

Final Thoughts

When dealing with rotten beef brisket, most of the time it should be straightforward. It will either smell horrible or have a discolored and slimy feel.

If you’re having problems determining its condition, go with your instincts. If something feels off, don’t be hesitant to throw it out. The danger is never worth the cost.